Friday, March 23, 2012

Creative Nonfiction Nonfiction

Last week, while perusing the internet and listservs, I came across this video/lecture by Lee Gutkind on creative nonfiction.
Lee Gutkind talks about Creative Nonfiction Writing for Scientists

I've been sharing some of the facts that Lee Gutking mentions to anyone who would listen - husband, friends, children, writer friends, the dog, etc. Here are the points that he made - in speaking about creative nonfiction for adults that struck a cord with me as a writer for children:

1) "Creative nonfiction is the fastest growing genre in the publishing industry, right now. Creative nonfiction is the fastest growing genre in the creative academic world, as well."

2)  Research, in the past 4 to 5 years, shows that people remember facts that are presented to them and many more facts for a longer period of time when those facts are embedded in a story.

3) People are persuaded in a much more successful way, when the information is presented in a story.

4) We remember our life stories in chapters.

I was fascinated (and curious) by this information and how it relates to children and learning. It appears to me that creative nonfiction books for children have an amazing potential for education. Though creative nonfiction is used in the schools right now, it seems that there is maybe a huge untapped potential to help our children learn - backed by research and data.

I've also been sharing, to anyone who will listen, how Gutkind presented Organ Donation in his book, Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation. It's toward the end of the video if you get a chance to listen.

So, if you are reading this, guess I have once again managed to get someone to listen to my "aha" moment about creative nonfiction. Love to hear your comments.

3 comments:

Annalisa said...

"aha" for me too, hehehe.

Vicki Cobb said...

Thanks for writing this, Anna. I looked at the video for a while and I have three comments: One of the MAJOR rules for all authors is "Show, don't tell." For someone who writes creative nonfiction, Lee Gutkin does way too much "telling" and not enough "showing." I got bored by his didactic approach. He would have held my attention if he had given some examples. Maybe he does at the end but he lost me. Second, a narrative is only one creative approach to nonfiction. There are many others including poetry and hands-on instruction to give experiences to readers. And third, not everyone knows what is meant by the term "creative" in "creative nonfiction." He should stipulate somewhere that "nonfiction" means "nothing is made up." I've had writers tell me that they write "creative nonfiction" when they are actually writing historical fiction.

Linda Zajac said...

Thanks for sharing! Many cultures (Indian, African, for example) teach with story. It's funny (sad actually) how we need research to show that this method is worthy before it's actively pursued.

Vicki, you probably lost interest in the video before he said (near the end) that everything must be factual. He also spent quite a bit of time talking about how he structured his book.

BIG DIFFERENCE between creative nonfiction and historical nonfiction.